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Monday, December 15, 2014

Comparing Three Ultra Wide-Angle Lenses for Nikon DX

One of the biggest issues Nikon DX users face is the lack of wide angle primes. Sure, you can use an ultra wide-angle lens made for FX and have a wide (or even very wide) field of view on your DX camera, but that is not very practical. The reason is that you end up paying more (when you should be paying less), and you get something big and heavy (when you should be getting something smaller and lighter). In other words, although you can, indeed, use a Nikkor AIS 18mm f/3.5 on you DX camera, such a decision would be utterly pointless. The image quality would be magnificent, but would it be worth paying the premium for a manual focus, heavier lens that gives you - pretty much - what any 18-xx kit lens does (minus autofocus, flexibility, VR, and what not)?

Today I will give you three recommendations for an ultra wide-angle lens for your Nikon DX camera. As you might remember from this article (which you should definitely read before buying an ultra wide-angle lens), an ultra wide-angle lens for the DX system would be a lens with a focal length of 12mm or less.

For picking the three lenses for this comparison, I have set these limitations:
a) they should have a focus motor, so that they are fully compatible with all Nikon DSLRs, also entry level
b) they should have a very good value. In other words, I tried to choose lenses that offer great quality and performance, without forcing you to pay a fortune.
c) they should be designed and made as DX lenses; no FX solutions

With these in mind, the three lenses are the following:

Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

Tamron AF 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5

The first thing you probably noticed is that all of the suggested lenses are third-party. We have one from Sigma, one from Tokina, one from Tamron. Is there anything wrong with Nikon's own offerings? No, I can't say that. The Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 is a fine lens. It's also, however, almost twice as expensive as the Sigma. If you are one of those folks that want to buy only Nikon's own products, by all means, go ahead. As I said, it's a wonderful piece of glass. I, on the other hand, want to focus on value.

So, let's have a quick and to-the-point look at the thee lenses.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Photoshop Tutorial: How to Remove Beard and Sweat!

I confess that today's article is a bit of a repetition from an older article on portrait post-processing. But I do that for two reasons:
a) To give a chance to those who haven't discovered it yet to become acquainted with this remarkable photoshop procedure
b) To show you that post-processing, too, involves imagination. In other words: who said that you can use a skin smoothing procedure only smoothing?

So, let me repeat the procedure, then I'll show you the results and we'll talk a bit about Photoshop and Scope

  1. Open your Image. Duplicate the Layer (CTRL+J)
  2. Select a brush of the appropriate size (on cheeks and other larger areas it can be bit large, on finer detail - like over the lips - it can be smaller). Hardness at 0%. Opacity 50% (but feel free to experiment with less; I don't recommend more). You can use airbrush qualities, with 50% flow rate. The blending mode of the brush must be set to "Lighten"
  3. Use the eyedropper tool and select a skin area very close to the place you plan to edit. Then, on the duplicate layer you just created, start 'painting' over areas with beard
  4. Continue like that, changing color (with the eyedropper tool) according to the surrounding area.
  5. Adjust the opacity of the layer to achieve a natural result.
Some tips:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tamron AF 20-40mm f/2.7-3.5 SP Aspherical IF

There's a lens that on paper looks promising. A full-frame, autofocus, (generous) wide angle lens. A zoom, in fact, that takes you from wide to almost normal. Its price is also very modest. So, is there a catch?

This is how it looks like. Clearly older design

+ very good optically, particularly stopped down (you would probably shoot a wide-angle at f/8 anyway)
+ Very decent construction quality, I think it will take a beating (although I didn't try!)
+ great value; you get what you pay for...

20mm on FX is really wide and can get you some spectacular cloudscapes